Peter Englund, Peter Graves
**A Telegraph Best History Book of 2023**
‘An astonishing achievement’ ANTONY BEEVOR
‘Extraordinary’ JULIA BOYD
An intimate history of the most important month of the Second World War – perhaps the century – as experienced by those who lived through it, completely based on their diaries, letters and memoirs.
At the beginning of November 1942, it looked as if the Axis powers could win the war; at the end of that month, it was obviously just a matter of time before they would lose.
In between came el-Alamein, Guadalcanal, the French North Africa landings, the Japanese retreat in New Guinea, and the Soviet encirclement of the German 6th Army at Stalingrad. In this innovatively kaleidoscopic and riveting historical marvel, Peter Englund reduces these epoch-making events to their basic component: the individual experience.
In thirty memorable days we meet characters including a Soviet infantryman at Stalingrad; an Italian truck driver in the North African desert; a partisan in the Belarussian forests; a machine gunner in a British bomber; a twelve-year-old girl in Shanghai; a university student in Paris; a housewife on Long Island; a prisoner in Treblinka; Albert Camus, Vasily Grossman, and Vera Brittain – forty characters in all. We also witness the launch of SS James Oglethorpe; the fate of U-604, a German submarine; the building of the first nuclear reactor; and the making of Casablanca.
Not since Englund’s own The Beauty and the Sorrow has a book given us one of the most dramatic periods of human history in all its immensity and emotional range.
‘Thought-provoking’ SUNDAY TIMES
‘Thoroughly worth reading’ TELEGRAPH
An astonishing achievement * Antony Beevor * By interweaving the detailed experiences of 39 individuals from all parts of the conflict, Englund presents an extraordinary panorama of this pivotal moment. A haunting narrative imaginatively conceived, brilliantly told * Julia Boyd * Absolutely revelatory. A stunning tour de force. So much in here that is truly fresh and new. Englund chronicles the gripping tale of one month that changed everything in WWII, and it is so beautifully written and timeless. Once read, you'll want to return to this again and again * Damien Lewis * Majestic ... This is an extraordinary evocation of a pivotal moment in the 20th century. Englund captures not only the gnawing tension, the moments of terror and the flinty endurance but also the fractal complexity of this global conflict. Resonantly written and utterly gripping, this book will stay with you * Sinclair MacKay * This gripping and propulsive account, expertly translated by Graves in lyrical prose, recreates the daily uncertainty of war as experienced by regular people ... It's a monumental work of history * Publishers Weekly * **PRAISE FOR THE BEAUTY AND THE SORROW** In four decades of studying war, I've never read such a remarkable book * Washington Post * A literary as well as a historical achievement * Guardian * Intense and bighearted. ... The accounts of [these] lives can be terrifying or stirring, but are most fully alive in Englund's accumulation of small moments, stray details * New York Times * A wonderfully wide and rich mosaic of personal experience from the First World War * Antony Beevor * [Englund] conjures up the atmosphere over and over again with just a few stark words. I loved all the detail... inspiring * Margaret Forster * Peter Englund is one of the finest writers of our time on the tactics, the killing and the psychology of war. In The Beauty and the Sorrow he superbly and humanely brings to life all the tragedy, chaos, death and gunsmoke of battle * Simon Sebag Montefiore * A haunting mosaic of the experiences of war. The layers of voices build to create a richly complex and rarely heard account of the First World War that lingers in the memory long after the final page. Immensely powerful * Juliet Gardiner * Like no other, this book brings out in a poignant and effective way the meaning of World War I for those who lived through it * Lawrence Freedman *
Book experts at your service
What are you looking for?